Lightning Leaps over Lake Muskoka

I’ve been loving hobby photography lately, but I’d never thought to capture a lightning storm before. As a child I remember being told that lightning came up through the ground (which is only partially true), so I was surprised to check my pics and see the horizontal lightning bolts.

Horizontal lightning bolt over Lake Muskoka in Port Carling, ON.

First: a short explanation of how lightning works, then I’ll explain what I learned about my horizontal lightning strikes! 

Lightning is all about the charges – nature always wants to find equilibrium. It’s a natural static discharge where different areas of the atmosphere equalize in charge. Think of it like when you get a static shock from something – it’s the same process taking place.

The most common type of lightning is cloud-to-ground (CG). Generally CG is negatively charged. This channel of negative charge, called a stepped leader, is invisible to the human eye. When it approaches the ground, positively-charged “streamers” reach up to meet it – which explains the “lightning comes from the ground” misconception! These streamers tend to travel up through tall objects like trees, and when they reach the oppositely-charged leader electric current begins flowing – which is why you’re supposed to avoid standing near trees or tall objects during storms.

Cloud-to-ground lightning via lightningmaster.com

Occasionally, an exceptional amount of positive charge builds up in the upper levels of the cloud. This too must be balanced out, and since the lightning has a longer way to travel it is much more powerful. Usually these bolts travel vertically to the ground, but because of the high difference in electrical potential they can also travel horizontally before going to the ground. This means that these positive cloud-to-ground lightning bolts can strike from a blue sky many miles away from the storm – a “bolt from the blue.” Since positive lightning has higher peak currents and longer continuing currents, it is capable of heating surfaces to higher levels… which also makes it the type of lightning most likely to start a forest fire.

Positive cloud-to-ground lightning, via the Washington Post

So anyway, onto our horizontal lightning strikes! The explanation for these bright horizontal strikes is actually pretty simple – differently-charged areas in the atmosphere are simply seeking equilibrium, this time it happens to be two clouds with opposing charges (cloud-to-cloud lightning). As we learned earlier, clouds can be either negatively or positively charged, and nature always seeks equilibrium.

Cloud-to-cloud lightning over Lake Muskoka in Port Carling, ON

Cottage in Muskoka Custom Cocktail Contest

Calling all Muskoka lovers! Submit your best Muskoka-inspired cocktail recipe, and a short paragraph on your inspiration. Our favourite submission will win all of the ingredients of our own custom Cottage in Muskoka cocktail (Muskoka Spirits Co. Legendary Oddity Gin*, Sugarbush Hill Farm Dark Maple Syrup, and Fever-Tree Premium Club Soda), plus an engraved Cottage in Muskoka Yeti Rambler Lowball! You must be at least 19 to enter.

Please tell us:

The name of your cocktail

The ingredients and recipe

The inspiration behind it

How you would like your name to appear (first & last or first name only)

Our favourite entries, based on creativity and “Muskoka-ness,” will be judged for taste by our family over the Canada Day long weekend (woohoo!). Please submit entries to len@cottageinmuskoka.ca or cath@cottageinmuskoka.ca, or fill out our google formEntries are due by Friday, June 25th 2021 and the winner will be announced in the first week of July. 

Subscribers to our brand new newsletter have been given a head start with their mixology, so if you’re not in on the fun yet make sure to go sign up here! We can’t wait to see what you come up with!

*potentially in the form of a gift card – legal investigation pending 😜

Muskoka Watershed Council’s 2021 Natural Edge Program

Looking for an edge to protecting your Muskoka property? We endorse this excellent program being delivered in Muskoka this summer. Please call us if you have any questions or need any help.

2021 Natural Edge Program


MWC has received funding through Watersheds Canada to deliver The Natural Edge Program in the Muskoka area this summer!

The Natural Edge Program guides landowners through every step of the shoreline re-naturalization process, from planning to planting. It empowers property owners to restore their shoreline, protect their water quality, and create habitat for wildlife and pollinators using native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers.

Participants in The Natural Edge Program receive:A free site visit to discuss shoreline concerns, provide recommendations, and assess planting conditions;
A personalized planting plan, including photos of selected planting areas and ideal plant species;
Free resources to ensure that the newly planted vegetation thrives in the first few years of establishment and growth; and
Follow-up and support with your new plants.
And for landowners wanting to get a jump on planting their shoreline, there are a limited number of Shoreline Re-naturalization Starter Kits available for a low cost, which include:50 native plants including trees, shrubs, ferns and wildflowers
Coconut fibre mats to deter grass from growing around new plantings
Tree guards for all deciduous trees
Mulch for the wildflowers and ferns
Plant Care Guide with instructions on how to take care of your new plants
Habitat Creation Guide
Wildflower Garden Guide
If you would like to receive a site visit this summer, you can sign up at  https://www.muskokawatershed.org/programs/the-natural-edge/.

Is Slow Cottage Internet About to Become a Thing of the Past?

We all know the frustration. You’re trying to open an email attachment with a photo of your grandkids, look at a real estate listing, get some work done, or even just check the weather… and you’d like to not spend all day doing it! While newer internet technologies like fibre are trying to make that a thing of the past, the coverage is majorly lacking. In many areas the fastest high speed internet is just across the street from near-dial-up speeds, and due to the cost and difficulty of rewiring it doesn’t look like that will be changing any time soon. 

Should we just give up and disconnect? No way! Enter SpaceX, with their new Starlink Satellite Internet service. This satellite service will operate via a satellite constellation of at least 12,000 satellites, with more pending approval. According to SpaceX, Starlink will offer speeds up to a gigabit per second – a far cry from rural cottages which often max out at a speed of up to 5Mpbs (a 995Mbps difference!). During the beta testing phase, customers are expected to experience speed variations from 50 – 150Mbps. Even places that currently have no internet availability at all will finally be brought into the 21st century. 

This is not traditional satellite service – Starlink’s satellites are in low earth orbit, which will not only make the service more reliable, but will also help keep down space debris. Each satellite is fitted with an onboard propulsion system to deorbit at the end of its life, and in the unlikely event that system becomes inoperable the satellite will burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere within 1-5 years. At the higher altitudes used by traditional satellite services, this could take hundreds or even thousands of years. Satellite service also means that unlike fibre, you won’t have to have anything wired to your home to receive the fastest speeds available.

Though it is not fully ready for consumers yet, it is operational! Check out this tweet from Elon Musk, sent in October 2019 via Starlink internet!

He followed up with a second Starlink tweet – “Whoa, it worked!!” According to SpaceX, “Starlink is now delivering initial beta service both domestically and internationally, and will continue expansion to near global coverage of the populated world in 2021.”

While we truly do look forward to being able to work online at less molasses-like speeds, I, for one, will be celebrating laser-fast internet with a good ol’ Netflix marathon in my PJs!

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry (at Home)

These days, it’s more important than ever to support local businesses – so we thought we would share one of our Muskoka favourites with you! Crossroads restaurant, located in Rosseau, has been serving up casual yet upscale meals for more than a decade now. Their dishes (and atmosphere) are sophisticated but still manage to maintain a cottage vibe. We have been there a number of times, in fact it is our “special holidays” spot – birthdays, anniversaries, father’s day… they provide a cozy atmosphere with cheerful, friendly staff and incredible food.

While it may be impossible to experience the atmosphere right now with the pandemic, Crossroads has been a leader in Muskoka in terms of COVID-safe takeout. Not only do they offer online ordering (a rarity around here), they also have contactless pickup brought right out to your car!

They are open for takeout Wednesday – Saturday from 3:00pm – 8:30pm. They also currently offer a curated “chef’s box” for $100 per person that includes hors d’oeuvres, an appetizer, entree & dessert, fresh flowers, and a bottle of red or white wine. Sounds perfect for a date night or Valentine’s Day, doesn’t it? In fact I may just send Steve the link to this blog post…

Give them a chance – you won’t be disappointed. The passion that chefs Julie and Richard Lalonde have for the business is apparent from the very first bite. 

We hope to run into you there once it’s safe to gather again!

(705) 732-4833

https://www.crossroadsrosseau.com

What does a builder build when he builds for himself?

Muskoka real estate can be a crap shoot. Buying a cottage in Muskoka or a Muskoka country property can be a challenge. Whether it is a country property or a waterfront palace, the quality of the build affects Muskoka real estate values. We always recommend a home inspection by a great inspector (our favourite is a building inspector with one of the Muskoka municipalities) to bring any issues to light, especially structural issues.

The country property that I want to talk about today is a beautiful build on 10 acres. The builder has thought of everything. Trent Topping is a local builder who spent most of his career working for a high end builder who has since retired. Trent focuses on accents now. He is a master stair builder, is great at post and beam accents and generally shows great taste and skill in his work.

A few years ago we had a conversation about Muskoka builds. We needed a strategy to find a home that would be built to the standard that he expects. It became apparent that to end up with what he wanted, he would have to build it himself. Trent bought a large parcel of land, a ten minute drive from Bracebridge in the middle of an old growth, mixed forest.

Topping carefully scoped the land, and spent months deciding on the perfect location, overlooking a ravine and surrounded by gorgeous trees. He then spent more months designing a home that would house his building business – so it had to have a large office and a large workshop with oversized garage doors and and 11 and a half foot ceilings.

The builder’s own home also had to be open concept with solid wood floors, two storey stone fireplace and lots and lots of storage. Trent insisted on all the touches that make a Muskoka home not only good quality, but feel like it is in Muskoka.

The product (their home) turned out so well, it exceeded his expectations. The just under 3000 square foot home has three roomy bedrooms, a dedicated office, a full sized office (with a door!), a large bathroom and a loft space on the second floor. The main floor houses a spacious entryway, a private primary bedroom with ensuite, a great room, dining room open to kitchen, pantry, laundry room and powder room.

The 32 x 80 workshop/garage will resonate with the creative part of one’s soul. Underneath all this is a crawlspace which covers 1600 feet, is secure and dry and houses the furnace, water heater and provides more storage.

Whoever gets to enjoy this exquisite property will certainly be participating in the true Muskoka experience.

I Wouldn’t Sell a House in Oakville

It’s not that there is anything wrong with Oakville. There isn’t. At least in my opinion there isn’t. I grew up there. I made lots of friends there. I have great memories there. I have family and friends still there.

I am, however, not qualified to sell real estate there. It is legal for me to do so, because I am licenced for all of Ontario. I don’t think it is ethical though.

My message, as the current President of the Lakelands Association of Realtors is to use a local agent. It is definitely in the best interests of the buyers and sellers. A Muskoka agent knows Muskoka. A Muskoka agent will make the process look easy, but be working hard in the background to make sure that all of the details are taken care of. Aspects that an agent from out of the area would not be aware of.

Does the land flood every spring? Water in the basement? Is the shore road allowance owned? Can the owner legally access the property. How about water quality? And weeds. Are there weeds? A few or a lot. Is the bottom firm and sandy, rocky or squishy? Fishing, boating. Can one navigate from this lake to another.

Help us to help you and please, choose a local realtor.

Check out what I said on CTV Barrie, here

Kindness is the New Black

Greetings Fellow Humans,

I hope that you are all doing well, and coping with self isolation. These are certainly trying times for all of us. We are are all in the same situation with different circumstances. Some of us are coping well and some of us are finding self isolation very challenging, and most of us are somewhere in the middle, with good days and bad days, good hours and challenging hours.

I am continuing my theme of kindness for April. I say that kindness is the new black, and everyone needs to choose to wear it. Kindness applied to yourself first, will contribute to your strength and resolve. Self care will spill over onto others, and afford you the ability to help those around you.

Start with the outward display of kindness – taking good care of yourself. A routine is recommended by experts and will give you some structure to your day. Some days you will just be in survival mode, some days you will actually feel like you are accomplishing something.

Reach out to your friends and clients. Share your positive energy. And when you need some positive energy, reach out! A phone call checking in on clients and expecting nothing in return will help them and make you feel good. Do all the good deeds you can, from the safety of your own home.

Life is definitely not normal now, but that doesn’t mean that we cannot be grateful for the good things that we do have, and reach out when we need help. Please call me if there is anything I can do for you. We are all in this together.

Catharine Inniss 705 801 2304
Lakelands Association of REALTORS® Board of Directors, President 2020

REAL ESTATE IN TRYING TIMES

Greetings Fellow Isolators –

At a time like this, in Muskoka and around the world, a time unprecedented in modern human history, it is good to be reminded that we are not alone. We are all in this together.

We are all part of the human family and this COVID 19 is a world wide epidemic.

A doctor in Manhattan tells us that the sky is falling. Yes, it must seem so in New York. So far, here, we have been very fortunate. The sky is not falling here. Yet.

Your diligence in following protocol, is necessary. It is necessary to keep people alive. We are in an actual life and death situation, which needs to be taken seriously. We must model appropriate behaviour for others, and take leadership roles in our communities.

The province of Ontario has deemed Real Estate an essential service. You should expect that your REALTOR will be there for you, online. They will help you in person only under very carefully managed circumstances. So much can be done virtually now. If this had to happen, at least we have those resources.

Real estate services are important to the economy. And to people who have to buy or sell for health reasons, job reasons, family issues. =Learning to practice real estate while keeping safe, is going to take some creative thinking and some willingness to ’step out of the box’, while staying home.

We are being advised not to leave our homes unless it is absolutely necessary and then to take appropriate precautions.

Current events are going to tell us about who we are. We are about to find out where we are strong and where we need to improve, as citizens and as professionals.

Start with being kind. Kind to yourself, and kind to others. That shows strength of character and is more difficult in stressful times. And more necessary than ever! We are all in the same fallible, human family.

Thinking positively, being grateful for what you have and being kind opens, you to creative solutions. We need to learn how to move forward in the best way possible, and now is the time! This is a good time to learn all the skills that you have been meaning to, online.

Take your mind off yourself. Reach out and call your relatives, friends and clients, just to bring some cheer to their day. You never know whose life you are going to profoundly impact. Make it positive.

Catharine Inniss
The Lakelands Association of REALTORS® President, 2020

Violet Ann in Muskoka!

Royal LePage Port Carling Rebrand as Luxury Brokerage, Johnston & Daniel

Royal LePage Lakes of Muskoka Realty’s Port Carling and Bala Offices Rebrand as Luxury Brokerage, Johnston & Daniel

Royal LePage Lakes of Muskoka Realty is excited to announce that as of December 6th, 2017, our Port Carling and Bala offices are rebranding as the newest offices of established luxury real estate brand, Johnston & Daniel.

Meeting the growing demand for luxury real estate in Muskoka

With the significant increase in demand for luxury real estate services in the region, Johnston & Daniel is the perfect offering for Muskoka’s real estate market. As a division of Royal LePage, Johnston & Daniel offers the service of a luxury boutique brokerage backed by the scale, synergy and credentials of Canada’s largest and oldest real estate company.

Clients will have access to an intuitive and custom-tailored experience and will benefit from a robust and collaborative real estate network, a hallmark of Johnston & Daniel’s culture.

Active clients can rest assured that we have taken great measures to plan and prepare for a seamless transition while remaining focused on their needs. Outside of re-signing documents under the new brand, current clients will not be affected.

We look forward to this exciting new chapter and the opportunity to serve Muskoka’s growing luxury real estate market proudly under the prestigious Johnston & Daniel brand.

About Johnston & Daniel

Since 1950, Johnston & Daniel has been representing the distinctive properties in Southern Ontario’s most affluent neighbourhoods. Offering caring, intuitive service and building long-term relationships, Johnston & Daniel is the standard of excellence in real estate.

Muskoka cottage life & real estate